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Monday, December 26, 2011

Was NASA’s space shuttle program a failure?

Pretty much, argues John Millis, with some good reasons:

http://space.about.com/od/spaceshuttlemissions/a/Was-The-Space-Shuttle-Program-A-Failure.htm?nl=1

The program cost twice as much as anticipated.

The plan was to have made 50 flights a year; over 30 years that would be 1500 flights. But, less than one tenth of the planned 1500 flights were completed – just 135.

1 in 25 of the astronauts involved in the program died as a result of participation.

It’s hard to think of a lot of scientific achievements that came from this program, despite its high cost.  On the other hand, it’s easy to think of achievements from unmanned flights (Voyager, most notably, but also the Mars missions and others) or from the telescope program (Hubble, Chandra, Kepler, etc.) 

This is pretty much my viewpoint as well.  The space shuttle was pretty much an expensive dead end, with few spinoffs and no breathtaking advances in human knowledge.  Not even another Tang.